From developers at Guerrilla Games (makers of the Sony franchise Killzone) to starting their own game studio, it has been an interesting journey for Andrejs Skuja and Miriam Bellard, co-founders of No Reply Games. What really makes their story interesting was the direction they went, creating an erotic game best known as Seduce Me. In 2012, the game made headlines after Steam dropped the game from their Greenlight service due to its racy content. But that didn’t deter No Reply Games, who released the game (most recently through the Affect3D Store). While the team has been working on bringing the erotic gaming world to the mainstream, we were able to speak with Miriam Bellard to learn about their goals and their take on the controversial decision by Valve.
Tell us a little about yourself and your background as artists for professional gaming companies. Why the name ‘No Reply’? What prompted you to make a transition to 3DX/ erotic gaming? What was the appeal?
Andrejs is a professional concept artist. Before Seduce Me, he was designing the enemy characters for Sony’s Killzone franchise. You can see more of his work on his site.
I am a trained architect. My background is in both film and video games. I have been a visual designer at Guerrilla Games, and a Set Designer on King Kong.
We moved to Indie Gaming partly to be independent and ‘do our own thing’, and partly for the challenge of doing something different. We chose to make an erotic game because Andrejs wanted to draw sexy women!
We picked the name No Reply because we liked how it sounded and we liked the attitude.
There has been some publicity around your game being taking down from the popular steam greenlight service? Tell us about their reasoning, the actual events and your opinion on it.
Like lots of other developers, we put our game up on the Greenlight service as soon as it was live. Because it was an open forum we were careful to censor out some of the naughty bits from the images, but we did make it very obvious what the game was about. Our submission caused quite a big heated discussion, with votes being just over 50% for us, and just under 50% against. About an hour after it was launched our page was taken down and we received a generic email telling us that we had violated their terms of service (or something to that effect anyway). This was the only communication we received. We did not contact Valve as the email didn’t give any way of contesting their decision. But, it made us very upset, which is why we sent out a press release. My personal opinion is that it was very hypocritical – they are all for free speech when violence is being censored, but sex is not allowed.
How was the experience different working on an adult title vs a mainstream one?
The biggest difference was being part of a small Indie team. Both of us were used to being on mainstream projects with large teams and it was quite a shock suddenly having to think about every aspect of the game.
The adult aspects affected the development in that it kept the size of the team down (we found it more comfortable to discuss it only with each other), and it also made us shy about showing it to people and getting it playtested before it was finished.
Do you think there’s potential for society to accept adult content in games in the future? Also you may be happy to know there’s a growing scene for 3DX with a community of nerds open minded and very interested in seeing games infused with sexual content!
I am happy to hear about your growing scene. 🙂 And I do think there is hope for video games in general.
Until very recently the gaming industry has been very much like the early film industry with big companies bank rolling and controlling all the projects. Film changed with the invention of the digital video camera – smaller budgets meant that people could break away from the big companies and take more risks.
The same thing is happening right now to gaming – because of Unity3D, smartphones, and the whole Indie scene. Eventually video game will be as diverse as film and TV, and, like with film, this should include adult titles, and more adult content in mainstream titles.
So let’s talk about more compelling things like your game ‘Seduce Me’. Briefly describe the game and could you go into some detail about the sexual content? What can we expect to enjoy getting deeper into the game?
Seduce Me is an erotic strategy game. It takes some of the rules of everyday conversations, and seductions and abstracts these into card game rules. By playing the game well the player is rewarded with developing relationships and explicit images. All of the images are hand painted by Andrejs.
Tell us about the main characters. What is their background and who is your favorite and why?
The four main characters are all quite different from each other.
- Pietra is a celebrity socialite who owns the house you are visiting. She’s rich, beautiful, charming and spoilt.
- Esper is the maid and waitress and is very much a wild child. She’s confident, alternative, and a lot of fun.
- Cecelia lives on the fringes of the fashionable world. She loves sex and being admired and is on the look out for her next meal ticket.
- Lilia is Cecelia’s daughter. She has been brought up by her conservative upper class English father and feels very out of place in Pietra’s mansion.
My favorite is probably Esper – I like her attitude!
Do you have any advice you’d like to give to any aspiring artists?
Give yourself time to do things properly. Quality is important at every level – don’t skimp or rush, or do things badly just to get it finished. People will remember and love something that is good.
Conversely, nothing will ever be perfect, and there comes a point when you have to let it go and call it finished.